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September 12, 2019

This week, the Parents Circle Families Forum hosted a webinar to introduce their new Palestinian co-Director, Bassam Aramin. Like many others involved in the Parents Circle, Bassam was motivated to join the group after his 10-year old daughter was killed by a stray rubber bullet from a clash with Israeli border police. As Bassam recounted his journey to understand the Israeli perspective, I was moved by his story of emerging from time spent in an Israeli prison with a changed mindset. 

Bassam grew up in Hebron, where he witnessed the West Bank occupation by Israel after the 1967 war. As a teenager he became involved in resistance efforts, throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. He was eventually arrested and spent seven years in an Israeli prison. He decided to take the time to learn Hebrew because he wanted to improve his efforts to challenge his Israeli enemies. As part of his class, he watched a Holocaust documentary which fundamentally challenged his beliefs. According to Bassam,...

August 7, 2019

On Wednesday, August 14th Boston Partners for Peace will host a bar night for young professionals at Bow Market. We hope you will join us for a fun and inspiring night to learn about Israelis and Palestinians working together to better their societies. We’ll hear from Lobna Agbaria, Program Director at Our Generation Speaks (OGS). Lobna is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and an entrepreneur.  Through a 3-month accelerator program each summer in Boston, OGS empowers Palestinian and Israeli leaders to create start-up ventures that will have significant social and economic impact in each of their societies. The program brings the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders in their 20’s and 30’s together in the hope of building a new, shared generation of leadership based on trust and mutual understanding.

One of the main barriers to Israeli-Palestinian cooperation is the lack of contact between them.  People from the two societies often don’t have the opportunity to meet one another until...

August 1, 2019

Imagine a mother walking through a checkpoint from the West Bank into Israel with her critically ill child in tow. This might be the first time she has ever been allowed to enter Israel proper, and maybe she doesn’t speak Hebrew very well. She isn’t allowed to bring a car across the border and does not know how to travel to the Israeli hospital where her child is supposed to receive treatment. This mother is left on the side of the road, at once scared to be in a foreign place alone and worried for her child’s health.

This is where the organization Road to Recovery fills a vital need. Each day, average Israeli citizens meet Palestinian families at border crossings to drive them to life-saving medical appointments. Over 150 such rides take place daily. These rides give Israelis and Palestinians opportunities to get to one to know one another, and over time building mutual respect, trust, dialogue and friendship.  For many Israelis, they volunteer with Road to Recovery in addition to thei...

July 25, 2019

In the blog last week, my colleague wrote about his recent trip to Israel with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC Boston’s) delegation of Labor leaders from Massachusetts. He reflected on “the generational shift that [Israeli and Palestinian] societies are undergoing. Many speakers referenced the iconic image of Bill Clinton looking on as Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House Lawn in 1993. The number of people who do not remember that moment is growing, they are reaching adulthood, and their entire attitude toward peacebuilding and the ‘other’ is different from previous generations. We do not know exactly how this new attitude will crystalize, but we should be hopeful about the rise of a generation that can re-imagine the possibilities of peace and human-to-human connection.” This newer generation of Israelis are more familiar with wartime than hope for peace. After decades defined by unrest and mistrust, many Israeli and Palestinian...

June 13, 2019

We started Boston Partners for Peace to share the work of peacebuilding organizations in the hopes that the Boston community would be inspired by stories of friendship, reconciliation, and transformation between Israelis and Palestinians. This year, we have had the opportunity to meet passionate changemakers in Boston who each have their own reasons for wanting to engage with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After hearing your stories, we want to give you an opportunity to share them with our community. We want to hear from directly from you.

If you would like to share your experiences on a recent trip to Israel or the West Bank, your take on Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, or want to reflect on peacebuilding efforts and solutions, we want to hear your thoughts. Please contact us if you have a blog post or an idea for a blog post. We aspire to serve as a forum for ideas, interaction, and current events related to peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians. We understand the conversa...

June 6, 2019

In the Fall, we wrote about being deeply troubled by the U.S. Administration’s decision to end the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding for cross-border and people-to-people programs. We believe these programs build trust between Israelis and Palestinians, and undermining this support will hurt both the Palestinian people and the prospects for peace. The US administration has indicated that its peace plan will contain financial aid to the Palestinians, but the rollout of the plan has been delayed several times. Fortunately, the need to restore critical co-existence funding has been recognized by Congress, and we are excited to learn that significant legislative progress is being made around the issue.

In a rare bipartisan effort, Senators and Representatives introduced a bill this past Wednesday that would allocate 50 million dollars to create new fund for economic development and Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation projects. We are grateful to Senators Chris Coons (...

May 23, 2019

A few weeks ago, Muslims in Israel celebrated the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. In a previous post, we discussed the ways Ramadan has been used to bring people of all faith backgrounds together and provide opportunities for people in Israel to learn about one another. Each day of Ramadan ends with a festive meal called the ‘iftar’ to end the day’s fast. Over the past several weeks both in Israel and in Boston, we have seen diverse groups of people welcome new cultural experiences despite their differences.

In Jerusalem, Kids4Peace invited the Jerusalem community to an iftar meal that brought together Arab-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli students and their parents. Israeli-Arabs, secular, and religious Israelis celebrated with music and dancing. The Abraham Initiatives invited students and staff of all backgrounds to an iftar at Oranim college. They also convened Jewish and Arab principals who participate in the Shared Learning Initiative together for an iftar meal to meet each othe...

May 16, 2019

For many years, joint sports activities between Israeli and Palestinian youth have proven successful in peacebuilding efforts. Sports are beloved by kids of different backgrounds and give youth a way to bond over their shared passion. We are excited to introduce our newest peacebuilding organization, SquashBond, which embodies this mission by bringing Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Israeli youth together to learn the game of squash. This program builds on shared play by offering shared learning. The organization’s tagline “squash and beyond” refers to learning to play squash while also learning a new language and receiving academic mentorship.

This initiative, which launched in 2013, has expanded to the cities of Haifa and Ra’anana. The program aims to show how sports can promote tolerance, respect and understanding between peoples. Although participants hail from the same region, they are socially and culturally unaware of one another. Jewish and Arab children usually live in different towns,...

May 8, 2019

Yesterday marked the start of the holy month of Ramadan and Boston Partners for Peace wishes Muslims living around the world a Ramadan Kareem (a blessed holiday)! Millions of Muslims, including those in Israel, began dawn-to-dusk fasting to mark the month of Ramadan. Each year, tens of thousands of Muslims make a pilgrimage to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on the first Friday of Ramadan. Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site for Muslims, and each year, Israel eases restrictions to allow more pilgrims to enter Israel for a brief period to pray and visit family.

The festive spirit of Ramadan can be felt throughout Israel and exemplifies the diversity of Israel’s population. The municipality of Jerusalem marks Ramadan by stringing festive lights along the Old City gates and providing food to Arab and Christian families in need. In past years, the official start of the month was marked with cannons fired from an East Jerusalem armory, and shots were fired each day at sunrise and sunset to mar...

April 24, 2019

Boston Partners for Peace was created to engage the Boston community with Israeli and Palestinian grassroots peacebuilders who are making an impact in their communities.  Our feeling is that by uplifting their work, we are helping make progress toward peace. To close the distance between our partners and our community, we provide opportunities for Bostonians to engage and make a difference.

With that in mind, I want to share some upcoming opportunities, both locally and in Israel, for young adults to contribute to the work of Kids4Peace Boston and Hand in Hand Schools.

The Boston chapter of Kids4Peace educates and trains Christian, Jewish, and Muslim youth from diverse backgrounds to become interfaith peace leaders in their communities. They host year-round and summer programs for youth ages 12 to 18. These programs create opportunities for students to form relationships across boundaries and become advocates for coexistence. Some participants also attend conferences to learn about the w...

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